There’s no doubt that The Grand 1894 Opera House presents a myriad of genres, from classical to Broadway, pop to cutting edge theatre and everything in between.

Sometimes, we get an opportunity to reach out and showcase something so new and different that it bears explaining.

That’s the case with our upcoming performance of Gabriel Royal set for 8 p.m. Saturday.

He’s a cellist — but before you stop reading and say you don’t like classical music, please read on. A cellist and a vocalist, Gabriel got his start as a busker on the New York City subway, in the literal underground. If you’ve ever ridden New York’s subways, you may have seen and heard a variety of performers, music pouring from their instruments while the hustle and bustle of the subway causes riders to pause to listen. It’s a moment out of time, and some very famous and recognizable musicians have performed, just to get a sense of a very different experience.

For Gabriel, the subway performances were a path to earning his way while still an unknown. Who knew that tips for musicians during a few hours can be greater than tips for waiters working 8 to 10 hours a day. It was a revelation and allowed him to try out his new compositions and be inspired by those travelers, each of whom likely had his or her own story. In his own words, Gabriel says that he plays melodic, easily digestible music, not loud acid jazz. It’s a way of quietly connecting with the people, and he found his calling through this medium.

Many of us have experienced street musicians here in Galveston, in New Orleans or any number of places. I remember as a child watching and listening to the drummer on the seawall and I was never alone. George (at least that’s what we called him then) always drew a crowd and was roundly applauded. And there was always money dropped into his tip jar. We feature pockets of musicians at our ARToberFEST and The Grand Kids Festival and they are prominent during Dickens on The Strand. Galveston, as in so many things, welcomes all kinds of creative expression.

I encourage you to try something new this fall. Who knows, you may find yourself actively listening the next time you’re walking down a busy street or waiting for a subway. See you at The Grand.

Maureen M. Patton is executive director of The Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston.

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(1) comment

Charlotte O'rourke

Nice to try new things. It is also great to keep those traditions going and appreciate a “Grand” experience at the Opera House.

My traditional favorites with grandkids
1). Grandkids festival. It’s free and the Opera House puts on a great play.
2). Nutcracker ballet and tea party.
3). Rudolph, but it hasn’t played recently. Other Christmas plays.

Another favorite tradition though not at the opera house is the railroad museum and show. Kids and grownups -at least this grownup- loves it.

Anyone else have favorites?


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